Brit R&B Transplants Show off Chops, Miss Kaffeeklatsch


If Floetry hadn’t invented themselves, Saturday Night Live would’ve: Two British expats—a singer named Songstress (!) and a rapper named Floacist (!!)—ditch Blighty, first for Atlanta then Philly, where they somehow meet Julius Irving’s son Julius Jr., who naturally introduces them to another Dr. J, DJ Jazzy Jeff, along with the rest of the neo-soul vanguard entrenched there. Floetic, the duo’s 2002 disc, was that year’s slept-on r&b debut: jingling-baby beats overlaid with cute-accented kaffeeklatsch click-clack.

Beyond the readily iTunesable, Mos Def-featuring “Wanna B Where U R,” Floacism “Live” can’t be recommended over their studio CD since, like most current r&b (except for D’Angelo, whose records are every bit as jammy as his shows), everything blands out onstage into well-meaning Fender Rhodes Cream of Wheat. In a stanky float through Michael Jackson’s “Butterflies” (which they wrote), they prove they’ve got chops, but I’ll take modulated snare ripple over high-grade melisma any day. Still, Songstress does drop a snippet of the Inspector Gadget theme into the phantasmagorical “Opera,” reinforcing Floetry’s legacy of small-screen laffs while stretching the long Go-Go Gadget Arm of instant inspirado.